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Don Byron: Do the Boomerang

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We learn two things in the course of Don Byron’s new album, Do the Boomerang: The Music of Junior Walker. One, he can play the tenor sax as convincingly as he plays the clarinet. Two, he can get downright funky.

We already knew Byron was a chameleon. In the past 14 years, he’s released a dozen albums, covering everything from klezmer and cartoon music to chamber jazz, classical pieces, pop songs, soul and bop. This time he serves up a stew of soul, R&B and funk in an album-long salute to the great Motown saxophonist, vocalist and bandleader. And what a tight outfit Byron has assembled. Byron’s prowess on the tenor sax may attract the attention-he plays it on 10 of these 12 tracks, and gets a nice, fat sound out of it, not altogether different from Junior Walker’s-but it is his tight band that keeps things burning. Organist George Colligan and the always-intense guitarist David Gilmore feed off each other’s energy, matching solo for solo, trading barbs like mad, but never getting in each other’s way.

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